Reporter Abby Ladd was angry enough to stomp her expensive designer high heels as she waited under an umbrella and stared down a darkened street. “The station was supposed to send a car for me! If I have to call them again, heads will roll!” she vowed.
The pretty brown-haired woman was a good reporter, but she was also spoiled and vain. Her father’s wealth and power and her own natural abilities and beauty had led her to take so many advantages for granted. She didn’t like being made to wait. She didn’t like people to disagree with her. She certainly didn’t like Captain Atom, since the celebrated action-hero had treated the girl reporter with an obvious amused disdain on several occasions. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “After the Fall, a New Beginning,” Captain Atom (Charlton) #84 (January, 1967).]
A number of criminals have been found beaten or even murdered in the last few days, she recalled to herself. Others have literally disappeared. Even the police admit that an action-hero-turned-killer may be behind these attacks. Police Captain Fisher told me off the record that Captain Atom was not the suspect he referred to in the case of the beaten or murdered criminals. My own sources indicate the Bug was seen when the Cyberpunks were rampaging. The Blue Beetle may be the one who turned rogue, although I’d hardly put anything past that swell-headed Atom!
Before she could wave down a taxi, an energy-field enveloped her, and Abby Ladd vanished.
As she blinked through the blinding energy, she realized she was in a different place, as she saw rows of opaque cylinders and an elaborate scientific lab.
“I know this place — Kord Industries!” she gasped.
Alistair Kord smiled coldly and nodded in agreement. “Correct, Miss Ladd, and you have been chosen to become a pioneer of sorts. You will become one of the first humans to be re-imagined by the power of my mind. You will become one of my soldiers, and you will be much more than you’ve ever been before!”
Abby screamed as the energy darted out from the circular band that rested around the old man’s head and moved her kicking and flailing form into an open cylinder. She screamed once again, and then she knew no more.
However, Abby Ladd was not alone in her plight. The elder Kord had been working relentlessly to abduct other men and women and subject them to his experiments.
Smiling coldly, he turned to the Scarlet Scarab, who once again wore his original red and black costume. “I’ll soon have my own team of action-heroes,” said Kord, “and unlike my errant son, they will obey my every command — or never be fully human again!”
The Scarlet Scarab shook his head and said, “I understand why you’ve been having me impersonate your son. He’s my counterpart on this Earth, and nobody could do it any better than I do, but other than causing him problems with the law or making him angry about the use of his costume and name, what good does it do? I’ve taken a few punks down like I would have if my Earth had survived, but that’s not a big-picture kind of agenda, and you seem like a big-picture kind of man!”
“Your eloquence overwhelms me,” said Kord. “I wish to put my son in a position where he has no choice but to submit to my will. He will obey me or lose everything he has.” Gesturing toward a computer, Kord added, “As for the so-called big picture, once I have a team of super-humans under my control, Ted will assume his place as their field commander. But before that time arrives, he will need to be broken, and he will need to be hardened by adversity. The band upon my brow allows me to alter human tissue at will. I will create my Pseudo-Squad, and they will enable me to offer those with the right kind of money their own agents. I have never been one to blindly serve my own nation. The Russians owe much of their own success with super-humans to my science.”
“I see,” said the Scarlet Scarab. “I didn’t figure you for a patriot. I see my instincts were right.”
Kord laughed a brittle laugh and said, “Now I have work to do. The shapely Miss Ladd and the others I’ve transformed may be ready for their rebirths!”
As Alistair Kord walked away, the Scarlet Scarab watched him and then quickly began to type at the computer. The old dolt thinks I’m stupid, he thought. I may have been a truck driver instead of a scientist like his son, but Mark McClusky is no dope. I saw enough while he rattled on to access his files.
As he worked swiftly, his eyes gleamed with interest as an image was displayed on the monitor: Dan Garrett. There was a Blue Beetle before Ted Kord. In fact, there were two of them. The second one had been the sidekick to the first one for a time in the mid-1940s, but that brief time had made a powerful impact on him, since he took his mentor’s name. Years later, Dan Garrett was Ted Kord’s first roommate, though he was a decade older and already a student teacher. After he became a college professor, Garrett gained super-powers through a mystical scarab, and when that second Blue Beetle died, he passed his legacy to the punk. That means all is not lost, he thought as he shut off the computer. Ted has what will restore me to my old self. I can finally be free from the pain and the anxiety! Who needs old man Kord? It is Ted Kord who can give me what I need!
Eve Eden frowned as she put an empty cup of punch down on a long table in a festively decorated room. A banner announced that the event being held was the Harbor Club Annual Charity Ball.
For years I worked hard to make people think I was nothing more than a dumb blonde party girl in order to conceal the fact that most of my nights were actually being spent either in training as a government agent or in my costumed role as the crime-busting action-heroine Nightshade, she thought. Funny thing is that, as dull as my evenings have been of late, I’d almost prefer dancing on a table to another dull patrol!
Eve Eden was a beautiful blonde with the lithe form of a dancer. Indeed, she had managed to pose convincingly as a Russian ballerina in a past case. (*) Now, as she walked around a crowded ballroom, she had just raised one hand to stifle a yawn when she spotted something unusual.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Sentinels of Justice: Superpowers, Chapter 2: The Silver Lady.]
Eve, I think your night is about to pick up! she thought as she noticed a costumed woman slip out of the shadows of a darker part of the room.
The newcomer made little effort to conceal her entrance. She ran over and stepped on the elevated stage near the bandstand and raised her arms over her head. She moved sensuously and wore a curve-hugging purple and blue body stocking that covered her entire body, including most of her head, except for the top that revealed long red hair. As the crowd turned to stare in surprise, and in some cases in eager interest, she began to dance. The crowd fell silent as their eyes widened and their expressions grew increasingly vacant.
By this time, Eve had slipped away into the shadows and had shed her designer gown and heels in exchange for a blue-black mini-dress and boots and a long black wig with an accompanying mask. We’ve never met, but I recognize her from our Sentinel of Justice files, mused Nightshade as she clipped a pair of detachable skates on her boots and raced back into the room. She calls herself Mindancer. She fought Booster Gold once or twice. She has some type of mind-control ability!
The crowd remained still and silent as the villainess continued her hypnotic dance. However, three burly thugs had now entered the room and were swiftly robbing the stunned party-goers.
“Hurry up! The boss lady may be getting tired!” warned one of the goons as he dropped a wallet and watch into a bag.
Nightshade rolled toward him and spun around to deliver a kick that flattened him. “Don’t worry. She’ll have plenty time to rest in between starring roles in the prison follies!” quipped Nightshade. Throwing a plate setting, she disarmed the second thug before kicking him in the nose. “That was easy enough,” she said. “We really need a better quality thug in this part of town!”
The final thug fired a gun in her direction, only to gasp as his shots passed harmlessly through her and into the wall. Nightshade dived across the room and tackled him before he could fire again. Chopping him across the throat with one deft move, she allowed him to collapse at her feet.
They can’t touch me while I’m in shadow-state, but I can’t risk the shots hitting someone else! mused Nightshade. I’d better bring the curtain down on this little bump and grind show right now!
Jumping up, Nightshade swung on a hanging banner until she reached the stage. With one hand she dropped a small sphere out of the bag that rested on her hip. When it hit the stage, it erupted into a cloud of inky darkness that obscured the gyrating form of Mindancer.
Nightshade released her grip on the banner and tucked into an acrobatic roll before flipping around to land squarely on the hypnotic criminal. “I don’t need to see you to put out your lights!” she said, gripping Mindancer’s thick red hair and jerking her head back before slapping her across the face. But before she could connect with a second blow, waves of pain sliced through her skull and left her curled up in a fetal position.
“I use my dancing to attract the viewers, but I don’t have to be seen to be felt!” gloated Mindancer as she stood up and kicked at Nightshade’s fallen body.
Nightshade fought the pain in her head and spun around on the floor to trip the other woman. As Mindancer fell on top of Nightshade, the shadowy siren rammed her palm into her face and gasped with relief as the mental attack faded.
Thank goodness I was able to resist her brain-bolts long enough to fight back, thought Nightshade. She may have a dancer’s body, but she has a glass jaw!
Nightshade bent over the stunned criminal as the artificial darkness began to dissipate. The crowd had started to recover as well, and angry and confused voices filled the room.
Just as Nightshade stood up and was about to reassure them, a gloved hand closed over her throat before she could speak, and a voluminous white cloak smothered her. She struggled briefly and tried to assume her shadow-form, but, to her dismay, even that reliable tactic failed to ease the pressure on her throat. She passed out as her attacker drew her closer and then vanished.
The Ghost smiled with contentment as he lifted Nightshade over one shoulder. Another rare beauty for my collection, he thought. She’ll look wonderful alongside Tomorrow Woman and Guardian!
Moments later, the colorful figure of Supernova swooped into the ballroom and carried away the beaten Mindancer. “No need to haul this beauty to jail — not when I have plans of my own for her!” he declared.
Supernova made a long bow to the startled crowd and then flew off with his captive.